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Sustainable Forests - South Williamston man honoured with Woodlot Owner of the Year award

David Bent, right, has a big sign on the end of his barn proclaiming him Nova Scotia’s Western Region Woodlot Owner of the Year winner for 2017. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil dropped by Sept. 23 to congratulate him.
David Bent, right, has a big sign on the end of his barn proclaiming him Nova Scotia’s Western Region Woodlot Owner of the Year winner for 2017. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil dropped by Sept. 23 to congratulate him.

SOUTH WILLIAMSTON, NS - One hundred people visited David Bent’s place on Sept. 23 – and it wasn’t even his birthday.

Even the Premier showed up.

It was a field day and wootlot tour of part of Bent’s property, put on by the province’s Department of Natural Resources who named Bent the Western Region Woodlot Owner of the Year for 2017.

Visitors could walk his property, high up the hill, and stop by various stations set up to show people examples of biodiversity, patch cutting, thinning; and implements such as skidders and a tractor processor.

Down below in the field behind the house, picnic tables were set up, and there were booths were off to the side where exhibitors handed out information and answered questions on numerous forestry-related issues.

Between the morning tour and the award presentation, a big meal was put on and picnic table discussions turned to, naturally, forestry practices.

Bent manages about 1,000 acres of woodland in eight different parcels across Annapolis County, with the lot behind his house measuring about 185 acres.

Kings South MLA Keith Irving, right, presents David Bent with the Western Region Woodlot Owner of the Year award for 2017 Sept. 23 at his property in South Williamston.

Plaque

Keith Irving, MLA for Kings South, presented Bent with a plaque on behalf of Department of Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller.

“This award recognizes outstanding woodland stewardship, and these are folks that work, over generations really, in sustainable forest practices,” Irving said. “They encourage sustainable woodland management and care deeply about the land. Many of you that are here bring a whole family history to plots of forest.”

He said he sees in people like Bent a deep connection and respect for the forest.

“They care about how they harvest, they care deeply about their eco systems, and they know the land extremely, extremely well,” he said. “And I can say that for David Bent who we are acknowledging and congratulating here today.”

He said over the years Bent has learned the best practices in woodlot management and the business of forestry.

The woodlot has been in the family for 80 years – three generations, he noted.

“A real testament to familes to care for our forests and dedicate their lives to being stewards of our forests,” Irving said. “Over 60 per cent of our forests are in private hands, and I think that’s all of you here. I want to thank you on behalf of the government and the people of Nova Scotiafor being stewards of our forests. You’re critical in the long-term health of our forests and I know work very hard to maintain those ecosystems and a healthy forest.”

Annapolis County Councillor Wendy Sheridan presented Bent with a certificate from the county for his sustainable practices and increasing public awareness of the importance of private woodlands.

County Certificate

Annapolis County Councillor Wendy Sheridan presented Bent with a certificate from the county in honour of his award, sustainable practices, and increasing public awareness of the importance of private woodlands in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil dropped by after another engagement earlier in the day and spoke with Bent.

“I think today this is an extension of generations of families have lived off the land, made a living off the land, and at the same time continued to leave the land better than when they found for another generation,” McNeil said.

Randy Neily also attended the day-long event. He was the one who nominated the Bents for the award.

A number of previous winners were on hand for the Sept. 23 field day, including Larry and Greta Goodwin, Eldon and Lucille White, and Brian and Maragret Archibald. Peter and Pat Spicer, of Spencer’s Island, were also visiting. The Spicers are the Central Region Woolot Owner of the year and will hold a field day and tour on Sept. 30.

Bent’s grandparents bought the South Wialliamston property in 1937, and he grew up working on the woodlot and eventually took ownership in 1981 and has been managing it ever since.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, left, talks with Western Region Woodlot Owner of the Year award winner David Bent, right. Second left is Kings South MLA Keith Irving, and second right is Simon Mutabazi with Department of Natural Resources.

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